Officials promise new look at abandoned pesticide dump

RENO — Government regulators say they will reassess the dangers of an abandoned pesticide dump in Antelope Valley 50 miles south of Battle Mountain.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reported Sunday that federal and state authorities who promised a cleanup 16 years ago did little and that residents with cancer or immune deficiencies still blame the dump for their illnesses.

The federal Bureau of Land Management told the newspaper it dropped action after some liquids were carted off in 1992.

State environmental regulators say they ordered the BLM to cap the 2-acre site in 1993 with a foot of clay. But nothing happened, and the state officials said they did not follow up because they were too busy with other projects.

The Gazette-Journal reported that its inquiry prompted the BLM to submit a budget request for cleanup funds and make plans to test soil and water wells for contamination.

“They say it’s probably safe. How would they know if they didn’t check it?” asked Elizabeth Wear, 51, who lived about a mile from the dump for about six years and has been diagnosed with lupus, a type of autoimmune disease.

Records at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency show that the Antelope Valley site was never considered contaminated enough for it to be added to the Superfund program of federal cleanups.

The Gazette-Journal said Nevada farmers used the site to dump unused pesticides for decades.

The practice continued after Lander County in 1971 leased the site from the BLM. By 1985, the BLM was offering to sell the site, but Lander County was not interested.

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